Welcome to Our Spring 2018 Interns!

Three times per year, EPIC welcomes a new cohort of interns – young professionals seeking to add practical experience to their academic backgrounds in humanitarian affairs, international relations, security studies, political science, public relations, and beyond. We are grateful for their contributions to our research, action, and advocacy, and for the opportunity to connect them to Iraq and its people. Please join us in welcoming our Spring 2018 interns: Brennan, Francesca, and Stella!

Brennan Smith
 is a graduate of Hamilton College, where she double majored in American Studies and Government. Her focus was on the relationship between the United States and the Middle East. Her interest in the Middle East began after taking a class on Counterterrorism with retired Ambassador Edward Walker. She spent the summer of 2015 at the University of Virginia’s Summer Language Institute studying Arabic. She recently completed a year of AmeriCorps, working at a youth center in West Virginia. While there, Brennan led a weekly club that taught children both introductory Modern Standard Arabic and basic information about the Middle East. Brennan is returning to EPIC for a second semester with us, and will continue to fine-tune her interest in political and security analysis.



Francesca Gasparella earned her bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Africa Studies at the University Ca’Foscari in Venice, Italy, where she focused her curriculum on the Middle East. During her academic career, she experienced living in Jordan and Oman. Francesca has a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Strasbourg, France, where she completed a thesis about the language of the Chaldean minority in Northeastern Iraq. She is fluent in Italian, English, Arabic, Spanish, and French. Grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with EPIC, Francesca hopes to prove herself as a great asset to the team and to support EPIC’s mission through her commitment and hard work.



Yan “Stella” Wang is currently a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, where she is concentrating in security and intelligence. Equipped with theoretical knowledge about policymaking and international relations, she comes to EPIC with a profound interest in U.S. foreign policy vis-a-vis the Middle East, as a student of the post-9/11 period. She participated in a University of Pittsburgh-Ridgway Center project in collaboration with the FBI, conducting research and reporting directly to law enforcement on contemporary issues in countering violent extremism. Before coming to the United States, Yan received her undergraduate degree in Journalism from Nanjing University of Science and Technology in Nanjing, China. During the summer of 2017, she interned at the Xinhua News Agency, the top government news outlet in China, where she produced a video on the China-Kazakhstan border crossing in English.


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